How to Make Butcher Block Cutting Boards

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Cutting boards are a necessity in the kitchen as they protect your countertops and other surfaces from knife marks and food debris. While plastic and glass cutting boards are acceptable, the best material is wood, specifically a hard wood, as it does not dull your knives. While you can purchase a ready-made wood butcher block, you can also customize your own; choose the type of wood for your butcher block cutting board, and make it to your size specifications.

Things You'll Need

  • Hardwood lumber (1-inch-by-2-inch-by-4-foot pieces)
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Table saw
  • Waterproof woodworking glue
  • Clamps
  • Clean, damp rag
  • Belt sander
  • Rough and fine grit sandpaper
  • Clean, dry cloth
  • Mineral or wood salad bowl oil
  • Choose a non-porous hardwood such as maple, walnut or birch, as softer woods allow food particles to seep into the wood grain, thereby creating an environment conducive to germ growth. Consider using two or more different types of hardwood to create a contrasting surface.

  • Decide how big you want your butcher block cutting board and use a tape measure and pencil to mark the measurements on your lumber. The cutting board should be at least 1 inch thick, but it can be as wide and long as you want it.

  • Put on safety goggles and a dust mask for protection before sawing the lumber on a table saw to your preferred size. For instance, if you want a butcher block cutting board that is 1 foot wide by 2 feet long, cut three pieces of 1-inch-by-2-inch-by-4-foot hardwood lumber in half to equal six 1-inch-by-2-inch-by-2-foot pieces.

  • Place the six 1-inch-by-2-inch-by-2-foot pieces on a flat surface, laying them out side by side to form a 1 foot wide by 2 foot long butcher block cutting board.

  • Spread waterproof woodworking glue down the length of each side of the hardwood boards, except for the outer pieces, and press the glued edges together, making sure the ends are lined up.

  • Clamp the glued sections together into one piece, using three or four clamps, alternating placement on the top and bottom. Tighten the clamps until the wood pieces are securely held together, but not so much that they buckle.

  • Wipe the clamped wood surface on the top, bottom and sides with a clean, damp rag to remove excess glue that may have squeezed out between the boards.

  • Allow the glue to dry and cure for at least 24 hours, or per the glue manufacturer's instructions, before removing the clamps.

  • Use a belt sander with rough-grit sandpaper on the ends of the glued butcher block cutting board as well as the top and bottom to create a level surface. Once the ends and surfaces appear even, use a fine-grit sandpaper to achieve a surface that's smooth to the touch.

  • Eliminate any sharp corners of the butcher block cutting board by using the belt sander to sand them away before wiping away the sawdust and debris with a clean, damp rag.

  • Apply a thick coat of mineral or wood salad bowl oil to the surface of the butcher block cutting board using a clean, dry cloth. Allow it to sit overnight. Before using the cutting board the next day, wipe the surface with another clean cloth to remove any oil residue. The oil seeps into the wood surface to prevent cracking and dryness.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean your butcher block cutting board with soapy, hot water followed by a diluted bleach water solution before rinsing with clean water and drying thoroughly. Washing after each use is important to kill any harmful viruses or bacteria that may linger on the surface. Re-apply the mineral or wood salad bowl oil on a monthly basis to condition and preserve the wood surface of the butcher block cutting board.
  • Do not use any vegetable-based oils for conditioning the surface of the cutting board as these oils could go rancid, tainting any food that touches the cutting surface. Do not soak your cutting board in water or wash it in the dishwasher as it will retain water, creating a moist environment conducive to germ growth.

References

  • Photo Credit Jarrod Lombardo
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